After singing the praises of modern medicine, I will say, what I do can be pretty good for the subclinical (when you don’t feel like this warrants a trip to the doctor—though I will use my judgment on encouraging you to go) and the undiagnosable (uhh, your scans and labs are fine and we don’t know why it hurts or your body is doing whatever it’s doing). See me because you got a recommendation, because I’m close, because my license is in good standing, because you like the way I write. I do my best to tell all my new patients1 to give it a try a few times without being a stranger in between. Hopefully we get you some results, but acupuncture isn’t for everybody, and I’m not for everybody. *shrug*
You just ranted about how you’re not a doctor, what’s with the scrubs–
They’re super comfortable, and it saves me from figuring out what to wear in the morning.
and the stethoscope? Why do you take my blood pressure and stuff?
So, I was talking about primary care last post, and how a lot of people don’t get it. The State of Texas has some recommendations of other healthcare practitioners with that in mind. I used to go to a dentist who always took blood pressures. Why? Because most people don’t keep track of it, and it’s a good practice for people to have their blood pressure checked every so often. They might catch it high on someone, and that might make them keep track and know if they need to get it properly managed. I don’t do labs, but I check blood pressure, pulse rate, temperature, and SpO2 (how well your blood is carrying oxygen to your fingertips, where it is measured). I don’t always get around to checking weight, but I really should! Unexplained2 weight fluctuations (5% over 6-12 months) are a banner symptom. And on that banner is written, “GO TO THE DOCTOR AND START FIGURING THIS OUT.”
My back hurts. Why are you asking me so many questions?
That’s sort of fair, as I might not if you’ve been in an accident or your wrist hurts or something. But if I’m asking, it is either relevant to what I decide in how to treat you, it may uncover something else that’s bothering you that I can help with, or both. Back and knee pain are specific kinds of pains that we get a lot of background training about where other symptoms and lifestyle factors can guide us in choosing treatment. Same for headaches. In general, I will ask at least
- Where does it hurt? How does it hurt? Dull, sharp, numb, tight? Is it better or worse in the morning/night? With hot/cold? With movement/rest?
- How are you sleeping? Soundly? Do you feel rested in the morning? If you tend to wake up in the middle of the night, what time?
- Do you have enough energy or are you fatigued?
- Do you tend to feel hot or cold easily?
- Do you sweat normal, a lot, or a little? Hot flashes or clammy hands? Hot feelings in the body but with cold finger and toe tips?
- Do you have an appetite? Any nausea or other digestive upset?
- How are your bowel movements?
- Do you have normal water metabolism? Thirst and urination about where they should be? If you aren’t drinking water, are you not thirsty, or do you drink other beverages?
- Do you feel depressed, anxious, or otherwise mentally/emotionally unsettled?
- (Female) Are your periods okay? Regular? If you don’t get them anymore, when you did, were they very heavy or clotty?
By themselves, any one question might not be so important. Many of them might be little annoyances you’ve just gotten used to as normal for you. Put together, they give me a snapshot of you and a strong suggestion of how to structure your treatment plan.
1Some people have gotten acupuncture before seeing me, and they got miraculous results on a single treatment. Look, I’ve been in practice for 12 years, and while it’s happened before, NOT USUALLY. So don’t get mad if it doesn’t.
2Not trying. You’re dieting and going to the gym and you’ve lost your beer gut? Awesome. Good for you. You’re not doing anything different and you’ve lost your beer gut? Lucky you, maybe, but go find out if something is wrong. Here’s what the Mayo Clinic has to say about it.